According to a news story published today on Miadhu News, the Maldives has urged the United Nations to refocus its fight against illicit narcotics from security protection to enhanced public health. The Maldives made the statement today at the Social, Human rights and Cultural Committee of the General Assembly of the UN.
The country, which is a tropical paradise for tourists, is faced with the realities of a youth drug addiction that touches nearly every family, as UNICEF estimates that about 40% of the country's youth take hard drugs.
As the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ms. Iruthisham Adam stated, “controlling drugs is not only a security issue. It is an issue that affects families as well as societies as a whole. Hence, a clear and distinct reorientation of the global fight is necessary”. This reorientation would draw emphasis on the significance of treating drug victims without necessarily undermining the importance of a consolidated legal framework against drug traffickers, as Ms. Adam explained.
As reported in the news article, Ms. Adam further suggested that increasing awareness among youth on the dangers of drug addiction and a stronger commitment by States to rehabilitate drug abuse victims could enable bringing about this shift. For that reason, the Maldives expressed support to the call made by Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Direction of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to avoid criminalization of drug victims.
Under the current law in Maldives drug users can face 25 years in prison if they are caught but it is due to change so that drug victims are not criminalized. 'Young people have to have hope. Until we are able to give them hope, this is not going to go away', said Vice President of Maldives Mohammed Wahid Hasaan, a former UNICEF Representative expressing the government's desire to work on the situation and provide solutions for young people.
Tackling the problem of drug addiction in the Maldives is made even more difficult because of the special georgraphy of the country which means that the population is dispersed in more than 190 inhabitated islands. The dangers of sharing needles are also growing as few drug users get tested for HIV and AIDS.
In light of this situation, the Maldives highlighted in the statement made at the UN that the serious capacity gaps between States eventually obstruct the consolidated efforts at the international level. Ms. Adam reiterated capacity building as crucial to paving the way for a well coordinated and balanced approach to fighting narcotics.